While The Cardinals Build, the Mets ‘Rebuild’

For most of 2013, whether directly or through carefully planted ‘leaks’, the GM of the Mets let it be known that he, and the organization, were not happy with Ruben Tejada. His weight was an issue, his conditioning questioned. His desire, his effort, his heart, his character were all called into question. All that was missing was a public flogging.

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In the off season, the Mets’ GM openly spoke of improving the SS position (which is not to be confused with fixing the 1B problem). When options in his view became too expensive, presumably either in terms of the actual price of signing a FA or trading players, he took the tack that the organization would go, reluctantly, into 2014 with Tejada — albeit the new, rejuvenated Tejada.

They sent him off to fat camp, which he had to pay half the freight, and when he returned the reviews were mixed, at best; conflicting, even. Rumors of trades and FA signings swirled again around this 23 year old’s fragile state of mind even before spring training began.

His play thus far has been far from encouraging. A renaissance to the form of 2012 seems as far-fetched as expecting a word of truth from this front office on this matter. He’s booted a few balls, looked shaky on others, and has gotten off to a slow start with the bat. To these eyes, he looks shaken, timid, broken even. What a shock. Some Mets fans, myself included, if only to set him free from this abuse and give him a fresh start somewhere else, wish the GM would follow through with his stated goal of improving the position. And while some fans on MMO now want either Drew, or Franklin or Owings, there are more than enough of the vocal believers who find wisdom in the status quo (otherwise known as the company line).

As our intrepid leader stunningly stated yesterday when asked about the Braves acting so decisively to address pitching issues the result of injuries, give or take, with his usual condescension, “I just don’t see a situation at shortstop”. Really? He’s either delusional or up to more con games — perhaps to cover up the fact that it was dicey to trust Tejada in the first place, and careless not to have a viable back-up plan in place before now.

Contrast this GM’s dysfunctional concept of team building with this example, by the Cardinals young GM. It sheds light on the big concern about the Mets ‘rebuilding’ process, the one that opines, as so many posters now do on MMO in lockstep, that help from the farm system comes many years later. One must be patient, goes the mantra — and only the savvy, the astute, and the most disciplined know the magic formula.

kolten wongThe Cardinals sent out a young second baseman for Wednesday’s game, named Kolten Wong, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 2011, which was Alderson’s first draft. While we wait patiently for Nimmo to save the franchise, the Cardinals can slot in Wong at second base, to cover indirectly the departure of Beltran with Carpenter moving to right. And to plan for all eventualities, the GM brings in a solid veteran (Ellis) in case Wong isn’t ready BEFORE the start of spring training.

So here’s a player that is ranked #33 by Baseball Prospectus¬†among all prospects, that the GM of the Cardinals has brought to the major league club since Alderson’s first year in control (Carlos Martinez, who was quite impressive in the same game, is another, signed in 2010, with no plans to send him back to save a control year). Wong is an important player who is expected to have a critical impact on the success of the Cardinals in 2014, and who is not the result of a long ‘rebuild’. In fact, they had to wait less than 3 years for him.

How many players have the Mets brought up to the major league team from the farm system since 2010, who were drafted or signed by this so-called rebuilding regime, and who the Mets can reasonably expect to have an impact in 2014?

Zero. Which is the approximate odds of the Mets winning the 90 games the flock’s fearless leader predicts, and perhaps the approximate odds that the Cardinals won’t. Say, instead, the Mets had drafted a college shortstop the same year the Cardinals drafted Wong, a SS similar to Wong’s caliber? He’d be slotted into shortstop this season, and this nightmare of finding a competent SS would not have happened. A rebuilding team would actually have rebuilt the team, at least one position. In less than three years. The very good organizations realize that team building happens every year, a piece here, and a piece there. The bad ones are good at excuse making and propaganda.

Yet the rest of us impatient, small minded heretics, simply know nothing about team building goes post after post after post, when we ask for some sign that the farm system rebuilding has become relevant 3 years later. Free discourse is now disguised as benign consensus — one congenial back slap after another. Dissenters are increasingly attacked, ridiculed and mocked. Some intrepid masochists stay behind, but most simply go of their own accord, which is ironic because much of this new herd is transitional itself, having migrated from another site. One should not be surprised. And while I have a deep respect for Joe D., I realize as I near the end of this article that it would take the ultimate commitment to free discourse to post this article.

As the GM of the Cardinals demonstrates, you don’t need more than three years to draft or sign a core player, develop him in the minors, and bring him up to the major league team to help them win. That mystical day when all the pieces for the Mets suddenly appear isn’t going to happen. Its a gradual process, yes, but one that is evidenced every single year by moves, small and large, good organizations make at the major league level. This one can’t even replace a young, homegrown SS they recklessly ruined.

Let the howling begin …

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